Last week the Congress approved the so-called “fiscal cliff” agreement. I voted against the final version of deal. The reason is pretty simple: the agreement raised spending. Again. Indeed, its passage seems to reaffirm a disturbing truth about today’s Washington: compromises always lead to more spending, more debt, and too often, more taxes.
Last week we added $330,000,000,000 to the national debt with new spending programs. At best, we have no plan for ever repaying that money; at worst, we have no intention to ever pay it back.
“Borrowing” money without intending to ever pay it back is not debt. It is theft. It is what we have been doing for too long in Washington. And instead of turning the tide last week, we continued our lazy ride toward inevitable financial ruin.
The President lauded the deal as a “balanced approach.” To me, a balanced approach means 1) more revenue and 2) less spending. The fact that the President, or indeed, for that matter, anyone, considers more revenue and more spending to be “balanced” — is truly frightening. If that is the “balance” the President wants, I want none of it.
Yes, the agreement locks in the current tax rates for many Americans. It also provided a welcomed fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, and very real improvements in the Death Tax provisions. And I understand why many of my colleagues considered those things justification for supporting the bill. Indeed, if this bill had been just about the taxes, I may well have been able to support it. However, “trading” increased spending and deficits for lower taxes is not a plan for compromise, it is a formula for economic collapse.
Also lost in the flurry of excitement over averting the fiscal cliff have been the literally dozens of special interest tax carve-outs for everything from wind energy to movie production. General Electric got some favorable tax treatment; so did the worldwide distiller, Diageo; NASCAR and Hollywood got special deals.
You did not.
In fact, by the time you read this, you will likely have received your first paycheck under the fiscal cliff “deal.” I can say, without exception, that your taxes are going up…regardless of how much money you make. That’s because, even if you don’t make $450,000 per year, your payroll taxes are going up, the new Obamacare/Medicare tax kicks in, and deductions start to get phased out the more money you make.
A group of us tried to amend the Senate version of the bill. We tried, as the saying goes, to “get to yes.” And indeed, I think it is incumbent upon me to do more than just vote “no” all the time, as doing so doesn’t contribute much to the dialogue. Toward that end, we proposed an amendment that would accept the higher tax rates, and keep the AMT patch and Death Tax improvements — but which cut out all the tax pork and spending increases.
We couldn’t even get a majority of our own party to support such a change.
People ask me all the time: “Why can’t you compromise more? Why can’t you all just get along?” The answers to those questions are there in the fiscal cliff deal for everyone for see: the only way Washington knows how to compromise is to borrow more money, go deeper into debt, and to give favors to special interests.
Put another way, compromise in Washington does not mean what it means to you and me. And so long as compromise means more spending, more debt, and more generational theft, I want none of it.
This is wrong. It has to stop. We are spending ourselves into national decline. We had a chance with the “fiscal cliff” to stop that, even if just for a bit. We failed. And by doing so, we failed the country.
Mick Mulvaney represents the Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.